Entertainment TV & Radio

Monday 24 July 2017

Ryan Tubridy: My big BBC break

Ryan Tubridy has taken over from Graham Norton on BBC Radio 2 during the summer - Saturdays from 10am to 1pm. His first show went out last weekend. He talks to Dave Mark about the experience.

Are you familiar with the normal working week?

I've heard of it. I read about it in a book once. I normally do a six-day week myself. Five days on the radio and then one night on the TV so it's a long week.

As somebody in the public eye, do you actually look forward to your time off or are you always desperate to be doing something work-related?

I think what happens is it's kind of like running a race and towards the end of the season. You start to think, 'I need to stop talking now because they're getting a bit sick of me and I'm becoming a pain in the neck', and then you go on your holidays and on day 10 of 14 you think, 'I'm looking forward to going back now'. I'm a restless soul so I love working. The joy of the daily radio show is that I can go anywhere, it's like constantly screeching around a corner in a car, and then the chat show is live, so that equally can go anywhere, so it's the perfect job for the easily distracted creature.

So, taking over from Graham Norton on his radio show must be a bit daunting?

It's a massive, massive challenge. I'm kind of bewildered by it all. I'm looking at Broadcasting House and thinking, 'How did I end up here?' It's the nearest I've had to Charlie getting into the chocolate factory. It's strange but I'm going to have to be match-fit throughout. I'm filling the big shoes of a fellow Irishman who I admire greatly. I'll just give it a go. I don't have much of a persona. I just go on and do what I do. We'll have a bit of fun and if people like it then great and if they don't, there are regular flights home.

In Ireland you're huge. What do the Britons know about you?

They don't know me here - not at all. And that's great. That works better. It's a blank cheque scenario. People have minimal expectations. The listeners will ask, 'Who's this guy, why's he here?' and it's up to me to prove that I should be. I hope it's because I'm a good broadcaster. It's great to walk the streets of London as an unknown. It suits me.

What can listeners expect? What's your style?

Older nerd! I'm an old-school, young fogey nerd - a person who watches a lot of West Wing, Mad Men and sneaks into the Inspector Morse box-set on occasion. Unforgivable, but very happy in my own skin.

It's been reported that you have plans to conquer America some day...

I don't know how they would say such a thing! Who are these people who wake up in the morning and decide where to conquer? The nearest I've come to anything like that is writing a book on JFK and his relationship with Ireland, because I'm fascinated by pop culture and politics, but as to conquering it, I think they'll survive without me.

Was success in the UK always part of your career plan?

No, not at all. I'm really happy with where I am with a great show and great team. The English option never really came up. People would ask for years whether I would go to the UK and I would tell them I had never been asked. Well, now I've been asked. I couldn't make it last time they asked. This time I can. It's a total privilege. It's the Holy Grail for people who broadcast. I'm delighted to be here, but did I sit down and plan this career path while petting my cat? No. You don't lobby for things like this. You're either lucky enough to be asked, or it doesn't happen.

Has Graham given you some helpful hints?

I've never met him! Well, I did, years ago, in the RTE canteen, but things have changed a bit since then! Little did we know that years later I'd be looking after his chair for him while he was on holiday! I met Chris Evans on my chat show and we got on and he's been very kind and helpful.

Who would you most like to interview?

I interviewed Stephen Fry on my TV show but it was just too quick! There was so much more to say, so I'm looking forward to having a bit more time with people like himself. Good conversations about the world and life as we know it, but with plenty of breathing space.

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